Milwaukee Brewers pitching prospect Dylan File has gone from off-season exhilaration at being added to the 40-man roster to disappointment at not being able to make his first league camp.
The Brewers revealed on Sunday that File, a 24-year-old right-hander, underwent surgery on Feb.4 to repair a stress fracture in his elbow. The procedure was performed by team surgeon William Raasch and File is expected to take 3-4 months for a full recovery.
“Dylan first suffered from elbow pain last summer,” said Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns. “He tried to rehabilitate him, but ultimately surgery was necessary.
File’s injury came after a summer in which he stood out at the Brewers’ alternative training site in Appleton, being sent there after the coronavirus pandemic wiped out the minor league season. Already known as the farming system’s best strike thrower, he also picked up speed after making a few changes to his performance at the team’s training complex in Phoenix.
“It was a really good jump,” File said in a late November interview with the Journal Sentinel. “Seeing the speed jump I had was interesting. But I wanted to see how it would have gone in the regular season against other teams, so it sucked.
File has been a surpasser since the Brewers selected him in the 21st round of the 2017 Division II Draft at Dixie State University, located in St. George, Utah. He was a fixture in Wisconsin’s Class A rotation in 2018, going 8-10 with a 3.96 ERA, only 28 steps in 136 1/3 innings and 114 strikeouts.
File made a bigger leap forward in 2019, splitting this season between Class A Carolina and Class AA Biloxi. He led the organization with 15 wins (15-6, 3.24 in 26 starts), with 22 marches and 136 strikeouts in 147 innings.
“My MO on Day 1 was my order,” File said in that November interview. “I am always proud to throw strikes. Honestly, I think I went there (gaining speed a good way). I don’t think it really costs me an order. This is what turned me on. “
File and right-hander Alec Bettinger were the two pitchers the Brewers added to their 40-man roster over the winter, and at the time, Stearns said the two hoped they would pitch the majors at some point. given in 2021. Now, for File, that will have to wait until he recovers from the surgery.
A look at the depth of the outer field
No one ever said baseball was fair.
Take Tyrone Taylor, a Brewers second-round pick in 2012, for example.
The 27-year-old has been a model employee during his tenure with the organization.
He showed consistency and courage as he rose through the ranks in the minor leagues, finally made his major league debut in 2019, then rebounded from off-season wrist surgery hitting .237 with two homers and eight points. to accompany a .793 OPS in 22 games in 2020 while making starts at all three outfield positions.
But even if Taylor leans on that with a solid spring, there’s no guarantee he’ll be wearing a major league uniform on opening day.
It all depends on how much the Brewers value depth.
They demanded Billy McKinney for waivers last September and traded for Derek Fisher just before camp started. McKinney is a first-round pick in 2013 and Fisher a first-round pick in 2014, and both are running out of minor league options, meaning Milwaukee could lose either to another. team if it is not on the list of the major leagues outside the camp.
Taylor, meanwhile, has one option remaining. So, if their game deserves it, McKinney and Fisher could be kept while Taylor is sent to class AAA Nashville and remains the property of the Brewers, being able to be recalled and dispatched as many times as needed in 2021.
“McKinney and Fisher had a really good chance to compete for a spot on the list,” said Counsell. “Tyrone Taylor goes into that mix, but McKinney and Fisher are both strapped for options, so when the organization tries to consider depth, it matters.
“We have three vault locks (Christian Yelich, Lorenzo Cain and Avisaíl García, from left to right). We can consider four, we can consider five off-screen. I think that paints the picture as best I can. I’m not going to do any evaluations yet, but it’s sort of the picture that comes into play. “
Taylor, a right-handed hitter, hit a soaring home run against Eric Yardley in an intrasquad scrum on Saturday and started left Sunday as the Brewers opened the Cactus League game against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch.
Fisher started Sunday at the center.
McKinney, 26, is a career .231 hitter with 18 home runs and 41 RBIs in 124 major league games since 2018. He’s a corner fielder also capable of playing first base and a left-handed hitter.
Fisher, 27, is a career .194 hitter with 17 home runs and 52 RBIs in 168 major league games since 2017. He’s capable of playing all three outfield runs, and also a left-handed hitter.
Two springs ago, Counsell predicted Zack Brown would make his major league debut for the Brewers.
It was a logical conclusion at the time; the right-hander had been named the organization’s minor league pitcher of the year and a decent start to the season at then-class AAA Milwaukee affiliate San Antonio would have been the finishing touch.
But Brown struggled early on in the batter-friendly Pacific Coast League, and his hopes of calling a big league faded. Add in a lost season in 2020 in which he pitched only at the alternative training site at Appleton, and he’s neither a vaunted prospect nor a member of the 40-man roster at 26.
So where does that leave Brown, a 2016 fifth-round pick, in the Brewers’ plans to move forward?
“Zack is away looking right now, but he’s also in a season where we know we’re going to need innings and he’s probably coming to camp in a better place than before,” said Counsell.
“I think right now you’re associating Zack with a guy like Alec Bettinger, who’s on the roster who would’ve been in Triple-A or is going to be in Triple-A, depending on how that works.
“Zack will be an option for us this year. We talked about this at times last year during the alternative camp, so it will definitely be an option for us this year.
Bettinger, who turns 26 on July 13, was a 10th round pick in 2017 who made 26 class AA Biloxi starts in 2019.
The right-hander was also part of Milwaukee’s 60-man squad and pitched at Appleton last season but, having been added to the 40 players in November, he’s got a leg up on Brown, as Counsell noted.
“Alec, he’s a fair guy, he’s an artist. That’s how he got to this point, ”Counsell said. “He’s a pitcher. He’s a pitch maker. His work has, I think, always taken a positive direction. And he knows what he’s doing. A strike thrower.
“He’s put himself in a very good position – obviously good enough to be considered a 40-man player. He’s a player who would really benefit from a true Triple-A season, to be able to perform at the top level for most of the season.
“But again, he’s an example of a player who, with the innings we need for this season, he can certainly put himself in a position to help us during the season this year.